Virginia Johnson

11/23/2016 - 2:31am
The Magic of Gingerbread

Catherine Beddall’s words and photographs make The Magic of Gingerbread a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. While a classic house trimmed with favorite old-fashioned candies is a fine project, there are also designs for a birdhouse, an ice cream parlor, a toy chest, a robot, a garden cottage and more.

11/17/2016 - 2:27am
Cover to Before Morning

There are very few words in Joyce Sidman’s and Beth Krommes’ Before Morning, but more aren’t really needed. The story is simple, and the pictures work with the carefully chosen words to give all the emotional details about what is going on. A girl is sad one evening at bedtime because her mother, an airline pilot, is leaving very soon for work. While the rest of the family sleeps, a heavy snow blankets the town, making it so the planes are grounded. Mom comes home, and the family has a wonderful snow day together.

It is an uncomplicated plot, but there is much more to the story. The textured shapes of the scratchboard illustrations give a feeling of closeness and interconnectivity in each illustration. Before the snow, the people on the city sidewalks and on the streets in cars and on bikes are busy-busy. After the snowfall, everyone, including the squirrels in the trees, has slowed down and become playful as a holiday feeling settles over all.

11/14/2016 - 9:05am
The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick

When Horn's war party found the girl, she was hidden in the corner of the cave, undressed, and past comforting by the wolves who raised her. They had been slaughtered by the Lawspeaker's band or else run off, howling their rage and loneliness. A foundling, surely, filthy, perhaps seven or eight summers old. Horn, the Lawspeaker, growled that she should not join the Storn tribe. A worthless child . . . another mouth to feed in starving times.

11/10/2016 - 2:23am
Cover to Magyk by Angie Sage

In Angie Sage’s world of Magyk, when the seventh son of a seventh son is born to the humble wizard Silas Heap, of course, the new father takes it on himself to fetch healthful herbs from the local wise woman outside the city wall. They’ve only the one room for all the family to share, but it’s a happy place, and the new addition is welcome.

When Silas discovers another newborn child with violet eyes well-wrapped but abandoned in the snow, his heart opens even wider. He knows there will be room for this tiny girl. He is surprised when Marcia, the new ExtraOrdinary Wizard, appears and hurriedly tells him they must treat the child as if she were born to them. A matter of great secrecy. As he rushes home, he is passed by the midwife, carrying another small bundle—his son—wrapped in bandages and wailing that his newborn son Septimus is dead.

11/17/2016 - 9:21am

Author Facts:

  • Born on December 8, 1940, in Washington, D.C. to L.G. and Eleanor Schneider
  • Received a B.A. in art from Smith College in 1963
  • Married Tomas Azarian, a musician, that same year
  • Mother of three sons—Ethan, Jesse, and Timothy
  • Now resides in Plainfield, Vermont

Mary was raised on a small farm in Virginia, yet her life's road would take her into the New England countryside where she would create folk art that celebrates the region's traditional farming culture. She has illustrated more than 50 books and written several of her own, often employing a 19th-century hand press to create her woodcut designs.

12/01/2016 - 11:31am

Kwanzaa, celebrated between December 26 and January 1, is a time for families in the African-American community to come together and enjoy their heritage. Unlike many holidays, Kwanzaa was created by one person, Maulana Karenga, in 1966. He named the celebration Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits" in Swahili.

11/01/2016 - 12:51am
Nancy Tafuri

When Nancy Tafuri began her illustrating her own marvelous stories, she had a hard time at first finding a publisher who would believe in her work. Fortunately for the many, many children who have been delighted by her books, Nancy persisted, learning more about her craft while waiting to be published. Her books were successful, and they definitely found their young audiences. Eventually, the New York Times would call Nancy Tafuri “the Queen Mother of Warmly Soothing Animal Bedtime Stories.”

10/27/2016 - 12:48am
Cover to Wild Child by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Greg Couch

There are some books that beg to be a part of autumn storytimes, and Lynn Plourde’s Wild Child is one of them. Large, glowing, flowing pictures by Greg Couch accompany the playful words that tell of Mother Nature putting her little one to bed.

10/26/2016 - 12:47am
Cover to Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Emma Rowena Caldwell was an intelligent, attractive young woman and a hard worker. Growing up in rural Ohio in the very early 1900s, there wasn’t much opportunity for someone in her circumstances. Born into a poor family with 15 brothers and sisters, she grew up to know farm work, but she also loved to read. At 19, she married 27-year-old, college-educated P.C. Gatewood. It wasn’t very long before the beatings started. And continued.

In 1940, having borne him eleven children and endured near constant torment, she left him. Few outside her community knew the part of her story she left behind her.  But everyone across America came to know “Grandma Gatewood,” the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail—more than 2,000 miles—from Georgia to Maine. By herself.

10/31/2016 - 10:01am
Frank McCourt: The Man Himself

When Frank McCourt passed in 2009, he left behind memoirs filled with anguish, love, and dark merriment. Personal experiences are what this Irish-American author took and shaped into works of sorrowful beauty.

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